Thirty countries have agreed to be part of the coalition for the immediate disarmament of Iraq, and several more countries are offering other forms of military and post-conflict support, said State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher.
Briefing reporters at the State Department in Washington March 18, Boucher said, "these are countries who have all stood up and said it is time to disarm Iraq, and if Iraq doesn't do that peacefully, we need to be prepared to do it by whatever means are necessary – people that are associating themselves in public with the effort to make sure that Iraq is disarmed and disarmed soon."
Boucher listed the countries in alphabetical order: Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan.
[In addition, Bulgaria, Portugal and Singapore were named by Boucher on 19 March 2003, see below]
"Each country is contributing in the ways that it deems the most appropriate" and has talked publicly about its contributions, Boucher said.
Boucher said that in addition to the 30 countries listed, at least 15 more countries are offering defensive assets in the event that Saddam Hussein resorts to using weapons of mass destruction.
"Some of these people are what you might call boots on the ground, in terms of providing military support or deploying defensive military units like, for example, nuclear, biological and chemical specialists to be available for defense of areas if the Iraqi regime should use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons," Boucher said.
Boucher said that the 15 countries that have not been listed as part of the coalition "are in fact participating in defensive measures or other things, but just don't feel they want to be publicly listed at this point, so this is a -- I got to say this is a changing list and changing numbers."
Boucher noted that still more countries are offering to provide access, basing, and overflight rights, as well as post-conflict peacekeeping and reconstruction.
Following is an excerpt containing Boucher's March 18 remarks on the coalition for disarming Iraq:
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. All right. I don't have any statements or announcements. I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Can you, in any way you can, describe the functions of the 30 countries listed as part of the coalition? The first question, of course, would be, are more than a handful contributing troops? And -- well, let's begin with that.
MR. BOUCHER: There are 30 countries who have agreed to be part of the coalition for the immediate disarmament of Iraq. I'd have to say these are countries that we have gone to and said, "Do you want to be listed?" and they have said, "Yes."
I'll read them to you alphabetically, so that we get the definitive list out on the record. They are: Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan.
Each country is contributing in the ways that it deems the most appropriate. Some of these countries, I suppose all these countries have talked in public about what they're doing.
In addition to these countries, there are actually another 15 or so that we know of, probably more than 15, that are cooperating with us in -- and the coalition, or perhaps offering defensive assets in the event that Saddam resorts to the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Some of these people are what you might call boots on the ground, in terms of providing military support or deploying defensive military units like, for example, nuclear, biological and chemical specialists to be available for defense of areas if the Iraqi regime should use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.
There are other countries who may be providing access, basing, or overflight rights. Still others have committed themselves to post-conflict peacekeeping and reconstruction. And you have some -- for example, Japan was very clearly not in the former category, but in the latter.
I think all these countries, one way or the other, and some others, have talked about what they're doing.
QUESTION: Well, in the list -- excuse me. But there's a footnote next to Japan specifying that their cooperation or support is postwar.
MR. BOUCHER: I think this has got to be the list, the way I just discussed it, but --
QUESTION: No, no, no. I hear you, but --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: -- what we -- I understand that Japan is postwar.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Let me put it that way. Are there others among the 30 who are simply part of a postwar reconstruction effort?
MR. BOUCHER: Many of these people are associated somehow militarily with the action. I think most, almost all is probably a better description. Some of them, like Japan, are probably exclusively interested in the post-conflict situation and helping out if we get to that, but I think most of these others, if you look at what they, themselves, have said, are in some ways willing or participating in, or supporting potential conflict, if that's where it ends up.
QUESTION: Richard, the --
MR. BOUCHER: And I would have to say some of the other 15 who have not listed themselves a part of the coalition, are in fact participating in defensive measures or other things, but just don't feel they want to be publicly listed at this point, so this is a -- I got to say this is a changing list and changing numbers.
QUESTION: Okay. So I think that might answer my question. Are you saying that your coalition of the willing and coalition of the unwilling to be named is expandable, you're still out there recruiting?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, it is.
MR. BOUCHER: There are people who may want to be named in the future, and there are, I am sure, people who will be participating in other things if we have to go forward.
QUESTION: And two, I know you don't want to get into specifics of what each country would offer, but at least two countries on this list kind of jump out at me in terms of their abilities to do anything, and that would be Afghanistan and Ethiopia.
I understand that Afghanistan might be overflight rights, but what kind of thing would -- and not to denigrate the Ethiopians, but what kind of thing would you --
QUESTION: -- Eritrea -- what kind of things are these countries which, you know, do not have great amounts of resources and are not really --
MR. BOUCHER: They may not be deploying. They may not be providing a specific resource, or they may just be allowing access, overflight, or other participation in that way, or they may just have decided they want to be publicly associated with the effort to disarm Iraq. Remember, that is the fundamental of this, that these are countries who have all stood up and said it is time to disarm Iraq, and if Iraq doesn't do that peacefully, we need to be prepared to do it by whatever means are necessary -- people that are associating themselves in public with the effort to make sure that Iraq is disarmed and disarmed soon.
QUESTION: In terms of the size of this coalition, compared with others that you've created, to do with international goals, how big is this? I've heard it's the third largest assembly?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite want to do that yet, because of the question that Barry asked, because I want to make sure before I start saying. I think the generally held number for the Persian Gulf War was 31.*
But I do, I want to check that. I am not sure that we have the same standards or inclusion. This is a list of countries, 30 countries, that want to be publicly associated with the idea that Iraq needs to be disarmed now. They are all participating, contributing in some way, or interested in participating in some way. I suspect the numbers don't quite compare yet, and so I'm going to be very careful about not making that comparison yet.
QUESTION: Richard, the standard -- it's a very diverse, eclectic list, and obviously the standard for inclusion is very low. Does this mean that -- well, agreeing to be listed --
MR. BOUCHER: I would point out --
QUESTION: Does that mean --
MR. BOUCHER: -- it is probably higher than the standard for inclusion in the room here. But anyway –
QUESTION: Ooh. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Did -- I assume that you asked everybody in the world whether they were willing to go on this list, and therefore you had 160 rejections, were there?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: How many did you ask, then?
MR. BOUCHER: We asked a number of countries that we knew were involved or potentially involved. I don't have the exact number, but I think the fact that you have this many countries that want to stand up and associate themselves with the effort at this point and that, as you know, there are others who are taking steps and doing real things to contribute to the effort to disarm Iraq is significant.
QUESTION: If any country in the world said, "We want to be listed," you would not turn them down for any reason?
MR. BOUCHER: I suppose we would at least -- we would want to see that there was something on their part that merited inclusion, and I think all these countries have something that merits inclusion.
QUESTION: Let's get it straight. You said some of them only – were only listed because they wanted to be associated publicly with this.
MR. BOUCHER: And had an intention -- were either involved or had an intention of participating in the future.
QUESTION: That's not what you said, really.
QUESTION: But you have no other country --
MR. BOUCHER: I think I said those things, yes.
QUESTION: -- no other country --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's slow down.
QUESTION: One big question and one small one. Have France, Germany, Russia, or China offered things like overflight rights for US military aircraft? And secondly --
MR. BOUCHER: That is a question you would have to ask them. As I have set the precedent before, I continue it today, not talking about others, contributions by others, unless I am absolutely sure they, themselves, have talked about it; so you would have to ask them first.
QUESTION: And secondly, what happens with diplomacy now? Are we beginning to draft resolutions to go back to the Security Council to ask for help with humanitarian aid in post-conflict Iraq, stabilization forces, a UN mandate to -- for food distribution, for a host of things?
MR. BOUCHER: It is a very good question. If I can -- it is a big question, and I want to answer it fully, so if I can, I am going to answer his question, and then I will come back to this.
He was going to say --
QUESTION: So no --
MR. BOUCHER: -- what about the Arab countries?
QUESTION: -- no Arab country volunteered to be on the list?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I think the Arab countries have explained their steps at this point in perhaps slightly different ways. I'll leave it to them --
QUESTION: What do you mean?
QUESTION: They don't want to be named?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave it to them to explain exactly what their position is.
MR. BOUCHER: We have said that the package that was developed was based on full participation and involvement of Turkey. At this point, it looks like they are going to Parliament with the overflight request. Overflights are routinely granted by other member nations without any questions of financial assistance or the need for dealing with any economic consequences. So we would expect that to be handled in that manner.
QUESTION: You believe your government is going to allow finally Turkey's military forces to be deployed in the northern Iraq during the coming war?
MR. BOUCHER: We have had a number of discussions with the Turkish Government about the situation in Iraq, particularly with regard to northern Iraq. We have made clear to them, as we have made clear to all others, that we oppose any unilateral moves into northern Iraq. We have been discussing with them the situation there. We have had a delegation out there since Friday. Zal Khalilzad, the President's envoy to the Iraqi opposition, has been out there talking with Turkey, with Turkish officials, also talking with Iraqi opposition people there, and including three-way meetings with the Turkish Government and the Iraqi opposition people. And they, again, have gone over I think the fundamentals of our common viewpoint. Iraq's territorial integrity is important to all of us. We look for a government in Iraq that is truly representative and democratic, that can represent all the people, the people as a whole, of Iraq. We all are interested in seeing the elimination of Turkey's weapons -- of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in full compliance with the UN resolutions and the protection and rights and freedoms of all Iraqis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and others is also paramount in the future of Iraq.
So these discussions, I think, have brought us forward into a considerable amount of understanding of the future of Iraq as we see it together.
QUESTION: Richard --
QUESTION: -- the point on the military, I mean, have the Turks agreed not to go in?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not speaking for Turkey. I made clear before that we oppose any unilateral or uncoordinated moves by any forces into Northern Iraq.
QUESTION: I mean, if Turkey just allows overflights, that seems to be far short of what the United States had hoped at the beginning of this process, and I noticed today that Germany had said that they would permit overflights, as well, during this period.
So could you just clarify what makes Turkey part of the coalition of the willing, whereas Germany is not part of the coalition of the willing, since they seem to be providing the same sort of assistance in the military end?
MR. BOUCHER: Who is to say they are not?
QUESTION: Who is to say that Germany is not part of the coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: Did Germany say they are not?
QUESTION: I don't see them on your list. Are they part of --
MR. BOUCHER: We have said there are 45 or more countries. I think we named 30 yesterday. There are probably another three that -- two or three that want to be named today. There is Bulgaria, there is -- I guess I'm not sure if I named Bulgaria yesterday. There is Singapore, there is Portugal, all of whom said in the last 24 hours it is okay to name them. So some countries are named, some are not. I am not going to go into who the unnamed might be. We certainly appreciate support from named or unnamed countries, or countries not on the list, anybody who we think is an ally or a friend or just an interested party who is prepared to cooperate and support in this effort. We think that is an important statement.
QUESTION: I was told that all of the countries in NATO except Turkey before this had granted overflight rights. Is that correct, to your knowledge?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: Can we go back --
MR. BOUCHER: I just haven't done the full check on every country to see.
QUESTION: I know you keep telling us that you're against unilateral action, but let me put it this way, and it would be nice if you could give us an answer.
Has the United States made any arrangements with Turkey for a coordinated entrance of Turkish forces into northern Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to get into speaking for the Turkish Government or talking about future actions. I think I have made clear what our position is. We have been in close conversations with the Turkish Government. We have been working with Turkey to make sure that we keep tensions on its northern border, on Iraq's northern border, at the lowest possible levels, and we expect the Turkish Government, as well as the Iraqi parties, to be responsive to our concerns. For the moment, that is as far as I can go for you.
QUESTION: What is the significance of Secretary Powell's meeting with the Foreign Minister of Angola at the same time when the Security Council is meeting on Iraq, and is there a message that you wanted to send to the Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: We, as you know, have regular dealings and conversations with foreign ministers whose countries are members of the Security Council. I am sure Angola is probably represented in New York this morning, just as the United States was, by our permanent representative.
The Secretary and the Angolan Foreign Minister had an opportunity today to have a good discussion, a thorough review of the bilateral relationship and the issues involved there, including financial ones, and as well as talk a little bit about coordination and efforts that we have made together in the Security Council.
QUESTION: Just one more time on the Turkey-Kurd question. Can you answer, then, at least, how confident you are that there won't be a war basically breaking out between the Turks and the Kurds?
And secondly, can you update on the -- there were talks a while ago, I thought, between the US and Israel on an aid package, and I haven't heard much about that lately. Can you update on that?
MR. BOUCHER: There is nothing -- we have requests from Israel about assistance, but I don't have anything new on that. That is still under consideration.
As far as Turkey goes, I just have to repeat for you what I just said to your colleague, that we expect the Turkish Government as well as the Iraqi parties to be responsive to our concerns.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just go back to the aid question?
The fact that the 6 billion – or even a portion of the package -- should not come as a surprise to the Turks at all, should it? Didn't you, from the podium, say shortly after the vote that the aid package was off the table?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. The Secretary said it and we have made clear from the beginning that the aid package was --
QUESTION: All right. And then --
MR. BOUCHER: -- designed to help them with the economic consequences of full participation.
QUESTION: Okay. And then, can I just ask you, how many of the countries that you have put on your list yesterday, and the unnamed, or do you consider the unnamed 15, or if there are more now, whatever, to be part of the coalition?
I'm just trying out why there seems to be a discrepancy between some people saying that there's 30 members of the coalition and other people saying there's 45. How many do you think -- how many do you believe --
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that there are 45 countries who, in one way or the other, are standing with us, cooperating in the effort to disarm Iraq, and who are ready to see that done, whether it is by allowing overflights or actually providing military forces or providing emergency units, such as nuclear, biological, and chemical units.
There may be others outside of this who are not counted, but as allies or friends providing certain facilities, even though they may not agree with the purpose. But I think there are 45 countries that are standing with us on the need to disarm Iraq. That is the way we have defined this, according to people who take actions in that regard.
QUESTION: Do you consider those 45 to be members of your coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Yes. Okay. And then one other thing. With your adding Portugal and Singapore and Bulgaria today. Does this mean -- were they -- can you say, now that you're naming them, were they part of the 15 --
MR. BOUCHER: I am moving them from one column to another, I am not adding three to the total.
QUESTION: They were the 15, they were part of the 15 that you talked about yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: I am moving them from one column to the other.
QUESTION: Does that mean that now there are only 12 in that unnamed category?
MR. BOUCHER: Approximately, yes.
QUESTION: So, in other words --
MR. BOUCHER: This is not something one can do an accounting every day.
QUESTION: I know, but I just --
MR. BOUCHER: I am not inclined to do a chart or a graph or anything, or, you know, color coded countries.
QUESTION: Okay. So the bottom line is that the 45 figure for the number for the members of the coalition from yesterday, stands?
MR. BOUCHER: More or less, yes.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just clarify something?
I think you said earlier that the 15 could include countries like Germany, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't mention any countries in the unnamed list, because if I did, they would be named.
QUESTION: Did you not say that -- when you were asked about Germany, you said that it was possible that such a country might be on the list?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not any more inclined to say anything more definitive than I did yesterday, I have to say.
QUESTION: Can I go back to --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't name the unnamed countries.
QUESTION: Okay, fine.
MR. BOUCHER: I think I said that yesterday.